Taking down the weasels: Google sues the scam artists

Better late than never. Credit goes to ReadWriteWeb for being the first place where I read about this recent development.

It’s rare I find something a large corporation does that is worthy of praise, but this is one such situation. The official Google blog reveals that, finally, the corporate behemoth has decided it’s time to drag the weasels into court. Yes, weasels. Anyone remember those posts? (It’s a three-part series, in case you weren’t around in April when I first posted them.)

I lament that it took Google at least eight months to catch on to what was obviously dubious appropriation of their trademark. In fact, with the inclusion of “Google” in the dictionary, the company has already come dangerously close to losing its trademark.

At least, we hope, a few scam artists will be bankrupt shortly, and the sunlight from Google’s official blog will probably scare the rest of them into hiding for a while.

Apple sets a new low in hypocrisy

Just when you think you’ve seen everything:
a recent Mashable article describes a rejection of the EFF’s iPhone application (the EFF’s own article is also available). EFF’s transgression was to include a YouTube video containing a certain profane word (hint: you can only say it once in a PG-13 movie) in its subtitles. The problem here is that this same YouTube video is accessible via the iPhone’s YouTube application, among with others that probably would have made the late George Carlin blush.

This is not the only example of Apple blundering with an iPhone application rejection. There are also the Baby Shaker blunder (article on telegraph.co.uk), the initial rejection of the Nine Inch Nails application (forum post on nin.com), and the rejection of a Project Gutenberg e-reader (article on boingboing.net). Examples abound, but the underlying theme here is that Apple feels the overwhelming need to play nanny and censor everything in its iPhone app store.

Apple should realize this is unsustainable. The sooner someone releases an “iPhone-like” phone that is not subject to Apple’s nannying, censorious whims, the better. Bonus points if it can run iPhone applications as-is.

The exposure of a weasel, part 1

On a recent visit to Facebook, I stumbled across an ad which links to a Web site jasongetsrich.com showing a $5000 check from Google, and the opening line “Get paid $5 to $30 for every website link that you post on Google.”

The most obvious item I found, however, was that the paragraph after the check said “Thank you for visiting my site. This is Jason Hoeffer from .” Exactly as so, without the city name. It made me wonder what was going on.

I browse on Firefox (and another similar browser, Iceweasel) with NoScript. Allowing Javascript temporarily to all the sites using Javascript from this page filled in that blank space with “Houston.” Well, I’m in Houston. I wonder if that’s coincidence? Could Jason Hoeffer really be from my hometown?

Looking in the HTML source code revealed that the city name was inserted with a bit of off-site Javascript. My skepticism that this Jason Hoeffer guy is really from Houston just grew tremendously. Someone legitimate should not need to use Javascript to insert the city where he or she is from.

Retreiving the script (by itself) via Tor a few times confirmed what I thought. I got Vienna, Paris, and Columbus on three separate attempts. Someone from outside Houston has confirmed that indeed, for her Jason is from a city near where she lives.

The ad may well be off Facebook by now, as I reported this to them.

Morals: don’t take everything at face value, and browse with Javascript off by default. Sometimes, it’s best to assume someone is a pathological liar until you have hard evidence otherwise.

But there’s even more. (To be continued in part 2…)